Don't place shelter in residential area The opinions...

LETTERS

February 03, 2002

Don't place shelter in residential area

The opinions expressed by both Cecilia Januszkiewicz ("Long Reach no place for planned crisis center," Jan. 27) and Laszlo Takacs ("Don't place shelter near our schools," Jan. 27) are right on target. I would like to add Kings Contrivance since I reside in Kings Contrivance. Both locations are very similar in that they are smack in a residential area, close to schools, and close to shopping centers.

This is not about compassion. This is not about caring for those in need. Many of us in these two villages contribute significantly to support the causes of the organizations involved in this Center/Shelter. This is simply about the location of the proposed Center/Shelter and only about the location of the proposed Center/Shelter. It is very easy to confuse this point and feel that a vote against locating the Center/Shelter in one's neighborhood is a vote against the need for the Center/Shelter.

The importation and concentration of the services and shelter to be provided by the Center into a residential setting such as the proposed locations in Kings Contrivance and Long Reach will eventually create, at best, a disturbance and, at worst, a tragedy. Both will have a negative impact on the character of the villages, business and shopping at the village centers, and ultimately, the property values of the current residents.

Someone who has been involved in the operation of similar centers in the Boston area told me that they are always worried about visitors to the folks housed there. Some visitors are friendly, but some are not. With this in mind, my wife will feel much more vulnerable when she is walking the dogs - Who is "strolling" through our neighborhood? Who is parked on our streets?

There can no longer be any heads-in-the-sand. Violence is in Columbia. Just last week there were more stabbings and another murder in the Oakland Mills area. The same voices that will assure me nothing will happen here are the same voices that assured Oakland Mills nothing would happen there. They are the same voices that do not reside either here or there. They are the same voices that will not be "responsible" when something does happen.

It can easily be seen that anyone working at the Center/Shelter would love to be in these pleasant residential settings. It can easily be seen that, if HRD is going to donate land and recognize the tax advantages of such a donation, they would prefer to donate land that has more value such as land in these pleasant residential settings. HRD should be shamed for considering, even for a moment, donating this land for this reason. Their actions to date can only be interpreted as a complete lack of concern for the current residents.

To determine if there would be any positive impact on the village by locating the Center/Shelter in it, one need only ask "Will anyone want to buy and move here because the Center/Shelter is here?" In talking to some of my neighbors and some of the business owners in the Kings Contrivance Village Center, I have yet to hear from anyone who thinks the answer would be anywhere near a "yes." There are no positives, only negatives.

This Center/Shelter is just not appropriate for any locations that are smack in the middle of a residential area near schools and shopping centers.

James Medwin

Kings Contrivance

Commuter rail plan seems to ignore Howard

The proposed rail plan for the Greater Baltimore area is very interesting.

However, to indeed call it a rail plan for the Greater Baltimore area is misleading. What it seems to be is a throwback to the 1960s or 1970s, when "Greater Baltimore" was code for "Baltimore City and County."

There is no portion of the proposed new construction - either subway or light rail - which comes into Howard County. At present, approximately one-third of Howard County's commuters travel to a destination in or off of the Baltimore Beltway. The benefit of a light rail spur which would come from downtown, run parallel to I-95, providing a connection at UMBC along I-195 to BWI Airport, continuing to the vicinity of Route 175 or Route 32, running to Columbia Town Center would be tremendous. However, in the present proposal Howard Countians have to make do with a proposed rail line that runs to Arundel Mills, which is a substantial drive from Columbia or Elkridge. Given that length of a drive to access public transportation, I'm sure that most Howard County commuters would opt to continue to drive to work.

Howard's own transit system has enjoyed a period of tremendous growth over the past few years. Additionally, Howard County's location in the region makes it a logical place for a hub in a regional transportation system which could allow a traveler in the near future to go from White Marsh to Northern Virginia via public transportation. Therefore, why Howard County does not figure into the proposed regional rail plan, other than some expansion of existing service, is mind-boggling.

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